Marengo gun ordinance seems unlikely

MARENGO – The Marengo City Council has no intentions of taking away guns from registered owners, despite numerous residents thinking otherwise.

The council jump-started discussions Monday on a provision in the concealed-carry bill awaiting Gov. Pat Quinn's signature that allows municipalities a 10-day window from the bill becoming law to enact an assault weapons ban for their communities.

The overriding response was that Marengo should leave its gun ordinances alone because the city currently has no prohibitions on assault weapons. Police Chief Joseph Hallman said in a memo sent to aldermen last week that his department saw no need for a ban.

"After what I heard this evening, I doubt the City Council would vote for a ban," Mayor Donald Lockhart say. "There doesn't seem to be support for a ban."

Nearly 20 residents spoke against any ban during a 30-minute public comment period that had residents initially wondering why Marengo was proposing a ban and fearing officials were infringing on their Second Amendment rights to bear arms.

Lockhart reiterated the city was merely discussing whether a ban was necessary because of the provision in the concealed-carry bill that passed the Illinois Legislature this spring.

"There's some rumor going around that we are trying to take away your guns," Lockhart told the residents. "I don't know who started that, but that isn't true. We are giving this a fair hearing in front of everybody."

The Legislature passed the concealed-carry bill after a federal appeals court in December struck down Illinois' ban on concealed carry. Quinn, a staunch gun-control advocate, has not indicated he would sign it.

The court ordered a concealed-carry law to be in effect by June 9, but Attorney General Lisa Madigan received an extension that pushed the deadline to July 9 to allow her office time to decide whether to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

Illinois is the last state in the nation to prohibit concealed carry. If signed, the bill allows registered gun owners to carry concealed firearms anywhere except many public areas, including in schools, government buildings, stadiums, hospitals, parks and on mass transit.

Illinois gun owners with a valid Firearm Owner Identification card would have to pay a $150 fee and complete 16 hours of training to obtain a concealed-carry permit. Local police departments can object to any concealed-carry application if they believe the applicant is dangerous to themselves or the community.

In other business, the council inched the city's southern borders closer to Interstate 90 after aldermen annexed roughly 350 total acres on a 6-1 vote from five different property owners located within Riley Township.

The council has added nearly 2,000 acres along Route 23 so far this year to try and reach the area of Route 23 and I-90.

The effort allows Marengo officials to formally negotiate with the Illinois Tollway Authority on financing an I-90 interchange city officials hope will spur economic development.

City administrators hope to present aldermen with one last annexation agreement by mid-July.

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